Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Development of doctrine, Dignitatis Humanae, and the Christianizing of paganism vs. the paganizing of Christianity


This new post has its genesis via the seeds planted from my reading—and related research—of THIS RECENT COM BOX POST by Rory, and his subsequent posts in the same thread. Rory has brought to my attention—what appears to be— contradictions concerning the issue of Church and State relations as delineated in the Vatican II document Dignitatis Humanae, with contributions from previous Popes, theologians, and Catholic kings—e.g. Pius IX, Pius X, Augustine, and Louis IX, Though not mentioned by Rory in his posts, one could add Pope Leo XIII’s, Immortale Dei—On The Christian Constitution of States, to his list of previous documents which seem to be contradicted by Dignitatis Humanae.

Now, after reading Dignitatis Humanae; Augustine’s Letter to Boniface, On the Treatement of the Donatists (#185), and his Letter to Vincent (#93 – also concernng the Donatists); Louis IX's Letter to his son [link]; Leo XIII’s Immortale Dei; Ratzinger’s “EPILOGUE – ON THE STATUS OF CHURCH AND THEOLOGY TODAY” (pages 365-393 in his book, Principles of Catholic Theology); and a number of germane online contributions, I have reached somewhat of an impasse—both sides of the issue have strong arguments for their respective positions. I have become convinced that the side one chooses between the two polarized positions depends on one's understanding of the development of doctrine.

As such, I have once again turned to John Henry Newman’s, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine. This new reading has raised some concerns that went unnoticed in my past readings. I started this new reading using the original 1845 version that I had downloaded to my tablet, and the following caught my eye:

Now there was this cardinal distinction between Christianity and the religions and philosophies by which it was surrounded, nay even the Judaism of the day, that it referred all truth and revelation to one source, and that the Supreme and Only God. Pagan rites which honoured one out of ten thousand deities ; philosophies which scarcely taught any source of revelation at all; Gnostic heresies which were based on Dualism, adored angels, or ascribed the two Testaments to distinct authors, could not regard truth as one, unalterable, consistent, imperative, and saving. But Christianity started with the principle that there was but "one God and one Mediator," and that He, "who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the Prophets, had in these last days spoken unto us by His Son." Hence Christianity, and it alone, revered and protected the Divine word which it had received, as both sacred and as sanctifying. It was grace, and it was truth. (1845 - p. 338)

So far, so good; I fully affirm all the above. But in the paragraph that immediately follows the above, a ‘red-flag’ went up:

In other words, Christianity has from first to last kept fixed principles in view in the course of its developments, and thereby has been able to incorporate doctrine which was external to it without losing its own. Such continuity of principle, and such assimilating power, are each of them incompatible with the idea of a corruption, as was laid down in an early part of the Volume. The two special principles which the foregoing paragraph introduces, may be called the Dogmatic and the Sacramental, and their assimilating power shall now be illustrated. (1845 - pp. 338, 339)

The notion that Christianity, “has been able to incorporate doctrine which was external to it without losing its own”, seemed a bit out of place to me, so I pulled the 1878 edition off of the shelf, and found the above paragraph missing. I also noticed that the first paragraph I cited above was altered, substituting, “Hence Christianity, and it alone, revered and protected the Divine word which it had received, as both sacred and as sanctifying”, with:

He had never left Himself without witness, and now He had come, not to undo the past, but to fulfil and perfect it. His Apostles, and they alone, possessed, venerated, and protected a Divine Message, as both sacred and sanctifying; and, in the collision and conflict of opinions, in ancient times or modern, it was that Message, and not any vague or antagonist teaching, that was to succeed in purifying, assimilating, transmuting, and taking into itself the many-coloured beliefs, forms of worship, codes of duty, schools of thought, through which it was ever moving. (1878 – pp. 356, 357)

The 1878 edition in the above section has expanded the notion that developments had the ability, “to incorporate doctrine which was external to without losing its own”, to include, purifying, assimilating, transmuting, and taking into itself the many-coloured beliefs, forms of worship, codes of duty, schools of thought, through which it was ever moving.

Unlike my previous readings, I was now quite focused on identifying those, “many-coloured beliefs, forms of worship, codes of duty, schools of thought”, that Newman had in mind. Just a few pages later we read, “St. Augustine might first be opposed to the employment of force in religion, and then acquiesce in it” (1878 – p. 367). In essence, the Church which had been outlawed and persecuted, had now adopted the “code of duty" of Her persecutor. [Is this a case of the Christianizing of paganism, or the paganizing of Christianity—more as this issue later.]

Newman follows the above with:

Confiding then in the power of Christianity to resist the infection of evil, and to transmute the very instruments and appendages of demon-worship to an evangelical use, and feeling also that these usages had originally come from primitive revelations and from the instinct of nature, though they had been corrupted ; and that they must invent what they needed, if they did not use what they found ; and that they were moreover possessed of the very archetypes, of which paganism attempted the shadows; the rulers of the Church from early times were prepared, should the occasion arise, to adopt, or imitate, or sanction the existing rites and customs of the populace, as well as the philosophy of the educated class. (1878 – pp. 371, 372.)

Newman then goes on to provide a number of actual examples of the above outlined principles:

In the course of the fourth century two movements or developments spread over the face of Christendom, with a rapidity characteristic of the Church ; the one ascetic, the other ritual or ceremonial. We are told in various ways by Eusebius, that Constantine, in order to recommend the new religion to the heathen, transferred into it the outward ornaments to which they had been accustomed in their own. It is not necessary to go into a subject which the diligence of Protestant writers has made familiar to most of us. The use of temples, and these dedicated to particular saints, and ornamented on occasions with branches of trees; incense, lamps, and candles; votive offerings on recovery from illness ; holy water ; asylums ; holydays and seasons, use of calendars, processions, blessings on the fields ; sacerdotal vestments, the tonsure, the ring in marriage, turning to the East, images at a later date, perhaps the ecclesiastical chant, and the Kyrie Eleison, are all of pagan origin, and sanctified by their adoption into the Church. (1878 – p. 373 – bold emphasis mine.)

I shall now end this post with two questions: first, if all the above pagan elements can be, “sanctified by their adoption into the Church”, why not the secular humanistic elements found in Dignitatis Humanae? And second, is it possible that a number of the pagan elements that have been adopted by the Church are corruptions rather than true developments—i.e a paganizing of Christianity rather than a Christianizing of paganism?


Grace and peace,

David

20 comments:

TOm said...

Hello David (and Rory),
I keep reading even if I do not always post.
I have observed somewhere in the past that adopting pagan things into a faith if wrong seems to remove any possible Christian structure from being right. I think the Jehovah Witnesses are not wrong when they point to the Pagan aspects of many Christian holidays. Newman acknowledges as much when he suggest that the “keeping of a calendar” and “holidays” are among those things incorporated by Christianity. I have also without digging into it too much thought the Seventh-day Adventist arguments against Sunday worship were not without merit. As a LDS I do not think we escape this criticism as we generally have Sunday services (though not as a rule because I understand LDS services are on Saturday in Israel), celebrate Christian holidays, and certainly have embraced a number of things that seem to have originated in Pagan worship.
So the simplest response to the criticism of the paganizing of Christianity for me has always been, “too whom would we go?”
Concerning the relation between the state and the church and how Vatican II reordered this and/or codified what was already reordered, I would ask what was "Tradition" and what was "tradition." If Augustine originally was very opposed to the intertwining of church and state and then later embraced this, I do not see how one can argue that Tradition has a set position on this question.

I think some at Vatican II and many Catholics after Vatican II implicitly (and in some cases explicitly) rejected the idea that Catholicism is God’s one true Church. Subordinating the Church to religious pluralist expressions within society is part of this embrace of the state and its expressions. It does seem to me that Catholic Tradition (big T) until the 20th century solidly and consistently expressed the view that the Catholic Church was God’s one true church. A number of conservative Catholic folks CHOOSE to read Vatican II as continuing to recognize Catholicism is the one true church. This is how I learned to read Vatican II from Catholic Answers. BUT… Pope Francis has damaged or destroyed this.

The embrace of religious pluralism I now often see in Catholic circles is a fruit of Vatican II tangentially connected to the relationship Catholicism has to other organizations such as governments. So for me Augustine could be for a “freedom of religion” such that the state does no coerce individuals to believe and practice one faith. He could then be for an enforcement by the state of truth such that it conforms to the truth as understood by the one true religion. And future Catholics could be for “freedom of religion” again. BUT (while all this progress and regress if it is that is now evidence against Catholicism), it is unCatholic to believe that Catholicism is not the ONE TRUE RELIGION.

I hope that expresses my perspective on this. I expect you have a great deal more data to support or undermine my thoughts.
Charity, TOm

Rory said...

Hey Dave. When I logged on last night I had this funny hunch that Tom had chimed in after a respite, and sure enough! Hey Tom, great to see you. You have a better penetration in to the necessary implications of the historical Catholic faith than most people, including the hierarchy, who identify as Catholic today. I hope to analyze your contribution later in the weekend. Dave's questions first.

David
I shall now end this post with two questions: first, if all the above pagan elements can be, “sanctified by their adoption into the Church”, why not the secular humanistic elements found in Dignitatis Humanae?

Rory
I think the question is best answered with another more precise question as follows:

...if all the above pagan practices can be, “sanctified by their adoption into the Church”, why not the secular humanistic teachings found in Dignitatis Humanae?

David
And second, is it possible that a number of the pagan elements that have been adopted by the Church are corruptions rather than true developments—i.e a paganizing of Christianity rather than a Christianizing of paganism?

Rory
I doubt that it would be practical to look in to each of the alleged pagan practices that Rome has "adopted". Many of them, such as the use of temples (dedicated for the worship of God and in honor of God through those He has deified), incense, lamps, candles, holy water, holidays and seasons, use of calendars, processions, sacerdotal vestments, facing East in worship, have precedence in one or both Testaments. These belong to the Church by natural right.

We could examine how troubling the others practices should be to someone who is investigating Catholic claims. I would expect for there to have been prudent caution by the Church in the holy use of images, because of their forbidden misuse as idols in the Old Testament. But are we forbidden therefore to adorn and decorate our places of worship, with statuary, paintings, and other holy objects to help us detach from the mundane, and rouse our thoughts to heavenly things?

Rory said...

Dave, I hope you didn't find my brief "answer" to your first question to de dismissive. I am sure there is more to examine, but the distinction between doctrine and practice is important. The Church can legitimately import practices that are compatible with church doctrine.

I am saying that the Church cannot legitimately import doctrine that is incompatible with church practice. If Dignitatis Humanae is true, it doesn't seem appropriate for our Lord to appear to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque to have her ask King Louis (XIV?) to consecrate France to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Since the times of St. Margaret, the Church has heartily approved ceremonial enthronement of the Sacred Heart over the family and over the state. Not now. Even Catholics have correctly discerned that it would be inappropriate for the state to accept such a distinctively Catholic way of presenting itself, if the document Dignitatis Humane is true. As for the family, I doubt such a thing exists among folk who follow (blindly in to the ditch) Vatican II. As the Church goes, so goes the state. As the state goes, so goes the family.

The result is that the family itself suffers. The family needs the church, but living in a state which also supports the teachings of the church has been proven to be a source of piety, of vocations, and of great sanctity.

The seventh and final not of Cardinal Newman's teaching on doctrinal development, is that a true development will have chronic vigor, whereas a corruption is of brief life, and fruitless.

Today is the Feast of St. Wenceslaus, King. Czechoslovakia still honors the king and martyr, who brought the Catholic faith to the Czech people. Where are the Catholic peoples extolling the names of saintly Catholic statesmen/women who have accepted the secular humanist teachings of Dignitatis Humanae? Rudolph Giuliani and Nancy Pelosi are the result of separation of church and state. They think they are Catholic because they go to Mass, while they endorse laws that are opposed to Catholic teaching. Vatican II helps them imagine it is possible to divorce religion and politics.

Dignitatis Humanae has borne the rottenest fruit. John F. Kennedy, who I admire in many other ways, knew that to become a Catholic president of the United States, would have to renounce traditional Catholic teaching regarding any need for statesmen to consult Catholic teaching. In the early 1960's, Catholics were understandably enthused to discover that one of their own, after almost 200 years of presence in democratic America, had an opportunity to become its chief executive. The price was paid. The Catholic candidate declared that he would not be influenced by his faith if it crossed in to political matters. Religion and Politics are separated, in the state, in the family, and with Dignitatis Humanae, in the Church herself.

Good King St. Wenceslaus, ora pro nobis,

Rory

Rory said...

Tom
I have observed somewhere in the past that adopting pagan things into a faith if [is] wrong seems to remove any possible Christian structure from being right.

Rory
That is a new idea to me. If it is a new idea, I reject it, but it sounds like an old idea. I am open.

I bet it wasn't from the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society.

Tom
So the simplest response to the criticism of the paganizing of Christianity for me has always been, “too whom would we go?

Rory
Keen observation. Another presumably old idea new to me.

Pagans have to be distinguished from infidels. Pagans might be doing their best, in their sense of a need for religion. They might be saved, and there might be something to be salvaged, baptized, and renewed from their inculpably ignorant practices.

That is not how I see the post-Christian political ideas that have fueled revolution against the idea that a state is able to legitimately recognize religious truth. Such ideas didn't come from the Apostles. They came from souls steeped in Protestant lies against a Catholic Church that supposedly endorsed policies to make the state forcefully convert all non-Catholics to the death, if torture would not suffice.

Infidelity is culpable, and it hates. Paganism doesn't have the force of hate for God behind it. One hopes for all, but reasonably, more for pagans.

That is one difference I see between using holy water (allegedly pagan) and the secular humanist Vatican document, Dignitatis Humanae.

Rory

Rory said...

Tom
Concerning the relation between the state and the church and how Vatican II reordered this and/or codified what was already reordered, I would ask what was "Tradition" and what was "tradition." If Augustine originally was very opposed to the intertwining of church and state and then later embraced this, I do not see how one can argue that Tradition has a set position on this question.

Rory
Tom, I could not find the passage about Augustine in my late edition of Newman. But what Dave quoted was about more than the state recognizing the church, which I believe in. It had to do with the use of force.

I don't know in what way Augustine apparently changed. I cannot believe he ever thought that LDS had to be killed. I can believe he would have considered it lawful for a Catholic state to prohibit the building of an LDS Temple. The Church never wants to see anyone killed in their unbelief. But if there was a Catholic state in our times, it would have the right to use force to limit the propagation of anti-Catholic ideas. I am thinking that even an immature (converted) St. Augustine would upon reflection agree with recent popes, like Leo XIII, about revolutionary ideas against state recognition of religious truth. Leo XIII laments about our times as follows:

Pope Leo XIII
The authority of God is passed over in silence, just as if there were no God; or as if He cared nothing for human society; or as if men, whether in their individual capacity or bound together in social relations, owed nothing to God; or as if there could be a government of which the whole origin and power and authority did not reside in God Himself. Thus, as is evident, a State becomes nothing but a multitude which is its own master and ruler. And since the people is declared to contain within itself the spring-head of all rights and of all power, it follows that the State does not consider itself bound by any kind of duty toward God. Moreover, it believes that it is not obliged to make public profession of any religion; or to inquire which of the very many religions is the only one true; or to prefer one religion to all the rest; or to show to any form of religion special favour; but, on the contrary, is bound to grant equal rights to every creed, so that public order may not be disturbed by any particular form of religious belief.

---Immortale Dei, #25, Pope Leo XIII, 1 November, Feast of All Saints, 1885

Who is God, that any human institution can rightfully ignore Him?

Rory

David Waltz said...

Hi Tom,

Thanks much for your continued interest, and taking time from your busy schedule to share some of your reflections. I have a good deal to share with you and Rory, but my time to do so is limited. Veronica and I are heading out for an eight-day cruise tomorrow morning, and today is a prep-day for it. Until my return, my comments shall be brief—yesterday, you wrote:

== I have observed somewhere in the past that adopting pagan things into a faith if wrong seems to remove any possible Christian structure from being right.==

I know of a few LDS authors who suggest the above. The one who immediately comes to mind is B. H. Roberts. Roberts devoted a entire radio discourse to this topic, which was published in the book, The Falling Away (1950). The title of the 1929 discourse was, “The Paganization of Christian Ordinances and Worship” (Discourse V, pages 52-64). In that discourse he relies quite heavily on Mosheim’s Institutes of Ecclesiastical History—a scholarly, multi-volume work, though dated, it remains quite useful.

== I think the Jehovah Witnesses are not wrong when they point to the Pagan aspects of many Christian holidays.==

The Puritans also did so; and a few conservative Presbyterians who follow them. I am also aware of some Independent Baptists who refrain from celebrating a number of holidays due to their pagan connections.

== I think some at Vatican II and many Catholics after Vatican II implicitly (and in some cases explicitly) rejected the idea that Catholicism is God’s one true Church. Subordinating the Church to religious pluralist expressions within society is part of this embrace of the state and its expressions. It does seem to me that Catholic Tradition (big T) until the 20th century solidly and consistently expressed the view that the Catholic Church was God’s one true church. A number of conservative Catholic folks CHOOSE to read Vatican II as continuing to recognize Catholicism is the one true church. This is how I learned to read Vatican II from Catholic Answers. BUT… Pope Francis has damaged or destroyed this.==

I think your above observations are pretty much spot-on. But with that said, I think one can argue that a number of Ecumenical Councils have promulgated teachings that did not have prior theological consensus.

Much more upon my return, the Lord willing…


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Hi Rory,

Thanks much for your posts. As I related to Tom, my response today will be brief due to time constraints. You wrote:

==I think the question is best answered with another more precise question as follows:

...if all the above pagan practices can be, “sanctified by their adoption into the Church”, why not the secular humanistic teachings found in Dignitatis Humanae?==

Newman provides some examples that cannot be limited to mere practices—e.g. Platonism, Neoplatonism, Stoicism, et. al.

==… I could not find the passage about Augustine in my late edition of Newman.==

Most editions published after 1878 retain the 1878 format for the main text. Below is a link to a 1909 edition which has the same page number for the Augustine quote that I provided (p. 367):

An Essay On the Development of Christian Doctrine - 1909

So much more I want to share, but must wait until my return. Will have my tablet on the cruise, and shall check in to see if you and Tom continue the dialogue in my absence. Don't forget to check back the week following my return.


Grace and peace,

David

Rory said...

John to the seven churches which are in Asia. Grace be unto you and peace from him that is, and that was, and that is to come, and from the seven spirits which are before his throne, And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth, who hath loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood...

---Apoc. 1:4,5

The Catholic Church has no authority to say that heads of state may lawfully legislate and rule without regards to "the prince of the kings of the earth".

What can it mean when we are told to pray "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven"? According to Dignitatis Humanae, God's will on earth is that there are no Catholic confessional states, but rather the state must indifferently treat all religions alike.

That he might make known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure, which he hath purposed in him, [10] In the dispensation of the fulness of times, to re-establish all things in Christ, that are in heaven and on earth, in him.

---Ep. 1:9

It is God's will then, to re-establish all things in Christ, by proposing that it is wrong for the state to favor the one true faith, if you can believe Dignitatis Humanae? Catholics abondon their duty to re-establish all things in Christ if she admits of a single earthly institution that is exempt from recognizing what Traditionalists often describe as the social reign of Christ the king. It is not enough for individual Catholics and the Catholic Church alone to recognize the reign of Christ the king. The Church's mission cannot end with that. In charity, the Church knows that all of society needs to recognize the fact that God the Father has "subjected all things under his (the Son's) feet". (Ep. 1:23)

I found a pretty fair description of the Integralist Catholic (Traditional) position at a website that is new to me. It is non-partisan, and I think a critique of the Integralist position will be in a follow-up article.

One misgiving I would have with the article would be about the way it might give an impression that the Catholic view requires that there be a punishment for practising another religion, or having no religion. I hold that a just law would necessarily permit private practise of false religions.

https://providencemag.com/2019/06/what-you-should-know-integralism/

Dennis said...

Hi David,

I'd like to make some comments regarding the idea that in some instances "development" diverged into corruption.

In regard to Catholicism acknowledging the hidden Word working in pagan ideas and sources to prepare for His revelation through the Scriptures. That is attested to by certain Church Fathers. However I note in certain modern Catholic forums the tendency to accept non-Christian religions as "salvific" since the hidden Word is at work in them. For example cac.org.

If certain strands of modern Catholicism can morph the Gospel & downplay the implications of Christ being the pinnacle of the revelation of God, I'm sure the same would have occurred in the Early Church.

Areas I think were affected were:

- the Church being a vehicle of enforcing God's kingdom by earthly governing powers. (It seems from Acts 1 Jesus wasnt too concerned about re-establishing Israel) Maybe the Roman Empire's "power trip" got imported into Christianity.

- the Roman Empire wanted to enforce its religious authority over other nations. Maybe Christianity imported this attitude due to its fear that dissent might lead to the rise of a syncretic Christ (eg Marcion). This might explain the hardline it took against Donatists, the threat of excommunication of the East over Easter and the endless squabbling of later Church Councils. These later Councils seemed to wallow in obscure definitions of the role of the human / divine natures in Christ.

- Von Campenhausen in Spiritual Authority...in the Early Church, seems to think the doctrine of merits of the Saints arose from the veneration of martyrs. When fallen Christians tried to re-enter the church they could ask for the prayers of the martyrs to supply merit. Cyprian further develops the doctrine. The Eastern Orthodox dont have this doctrine as it is based on latin legalism.

The small amount of time spent on the divinity & work of the Holy Spirit may be to blame for these type of errors. The Church began mixing governal power with spiritual power.

Cheers
Dennisb

David Waltz said...

Hi Dennis,

Thanks much for taking the time to comment. You wrote:

==In regard to Catholicism acknowledging the hidden Word working in pagan ideas and sources to prepare for His revelation through the Scriptures. That is attested to by certain Church Fathers.==

If memory serves me correctly, it was primarily the CFs who had a Platonist background before converting to Christianity who promoted the Logos/Word theory—Clement of Alexandria being a prime example.

==If certain strands of modern Catholicism can morph the Gospel & downplay the implications of Christ being the pinnacle of the revelation of God, I'm sure the same would have occurred in the Early Church.==

Indeed; and thanks for the examples you provided. I am in the middle of compiling an extensive list of other examples. Hope to have a new post up soon with what I am finding.


Grace and peace,

David

Nick said...

Hello David, have you read this article, which I think makes an important distinction on Religious Liberty, namely Religious Indifferentism versus Freedom from Coercion.

https://www.calledtocommunion.com/2013/10/on-religious-liberty-an-objection-considered/

David Waltz said...

Hi Nick,

No, I was not of aware of the Byran Cross article; so thanks much for the link. Just moments ago, I finished the article, but have not read the comments yet. I found the following to be the most consequential portion, but must do more reflection and research before I affirm or deny.

>>B. The Right of Religious Liberty

What then of the seeming contradiction between the older teaching that it is false that liberty of conscience and worship is each man’s personal right, and the teaching in Dignitatis Humanae that liberty of conscience and worship is each man’s personal right? Here too, the position condemned is not the same position affirmed, because the ‘right’ condemned in the older documents is not the right affirmed in Dignitatis Humanae. The position condemned is the notion that human persons have a right not only to follow their conscience in matters of religion without coercion from the civil authority, but also to form their conscience without any influence by the civil authority as such in matters of religion, through endorsement or promotion or practice of any particular religion, or opposition to any particular religious claim or practice. The ‘right’ of religious freedom as conceived by the indifferentists entails that the civil authority has no obligation to promote and defend religious truth, oppose false religious claims, and practice the true religion. Rather, this proposed ‘right’ entails that the civil authority has an obligation not to do each of those, and thus violates this right if it does them.

In contrast, the right to religious freedom affirmed in Dignitatis Humanae is the right to be immune from coercion to act against one’s conscience in matters of religion, within due limits in relation to the common good.3 This right does not entail that the civil authority has no obligation to promote and defend religious truth, oppose false religious claims, and practice the true religion. This right does not entail that the civil authority has an obligation not to do each of those. The civil authority can defend and practice one particular religion, and oppose false religious claims or practices, while upholding and respecting the right to religious freedom as this right is defined and affirmed in Dignitatis Humanae.

So here too the false right of liberty of conscience and worship rejected in the earlier documents is not the same right of liberty and conscience affirmed in Dignitatis Humanae, and for that reason there is no contradiction between the two teachings. This is also why there is no contradiction between the claim in Quanta Cura that it is false that “liberty of conscience and worship is each man’s personal right, which ought to be legally proclaimed and asserted in every rightly constituted society” (QC, 3) and the claim in Dignitatis Humanae that “This right of the human person to religious freedom is to be recognized in the constitutional law whereby society is governed and thus it is to become a civil right” (DH, 2). The liberty that Pope Pius IX teaches should not be legally recognized is not the same liberty that the Second Vatican Council teaches should be recognized.>> (LINK)


Grace and peace,

David

Rory said...

I appreciate the article that was cited. I wish the document means what Dr. Cross says. I would highlight one section of the author's claim which seems untenable in light of the implications of freedom from coercion as understood by the Council Fathers. The author seems to think that the religious liberty they speak of is merely individual and private. Not so. The document itself extends freedom from coercion in private to freedom to practise false religions publicly, as well as the right to try to persuade Catholics to apostasize.

First Dr. Cross:

"This right does not entail that the civil authority has no obligation to promote and defend religious truth, oppose false religious claims, and practice the true religion. This right does not entail that the civil authority has an obligation not to do each of those. The civil authority can defend and practice one particular religion, and oppose false religious claims or practices, while upholding and respecting the right to religious freedom as this right is defined and affirmed in Dignitatis Humanae."

If only this were the limit to what "freedom from coercion", according to the document means. I believe in what Dr. Cross wrote in the bolded part.

The problem is that according to the Council Fathers, Dignitatis Humanae has far more extensive implications. In Dignitatis Humanae, the civil authority is practically obliged to remain indifferent to religion. The author of the article thinks that a Catholic society can adopt the one true religion and oppose others? I do not see how.

The document speaks for itself:

#4) "The freedom or immunity from coercion in matters religious which is the endowment of persons as individuals is also to be recognized as their right when they act in community. Religious communities are a requirement of the social nature both of man and of religion itself.

Provided the just demands of public order are observed, religious communities rightfully claim freedom in order that they may govern themselves according to their own norms, honor the Supreme Being in public worship, assist their members in the practice of the religious life, strengthen them by instruction, and promote institutions in which they may join together for the purpose of ordering their own lives in accordance with their religious principles.

Religious communities also have the right not to be hindered, either by legal measures or by administrative action on the part of government, in the selection, training, appointment, and transferral of their own ministers, in communicating with religious authorities and communities abroad, in erecting buildings for religious purposes, and in the acquisition and use of suitable funds or properties.

Religious communities also have the right not to be hindered in their public teaching and witness to their faith, whether by the spoken or by the written word. However, in spreading religious faith and in introducing religious practices everyone ought at all times to refrain from any manner of action which might seem to carry a hint of coercion or of a kind of persuasion that would be dishonorable or unworthy, especially when dealing with poor or uneducated people. Such a manner of action would have to be considered an abuse of one's right and a violation of the right of others."


Where a society is mostly Catholic, the citizens must strive to support a government which gives protections to false religions which allow infidels to "honorably and worthily" propagate errors against the Catholic faith. I do not believe this can be reconciled with any meaningful way in which the state may "oppose false religious claims or practices", Dr. Cross claims is permissible by a careful reading of the document.

David Waltz said...

Hi Rory,

Thanks much for taking the time to share some of your thoughts on the Bryan Cross article. You concluded with:

==Where a society is mostly Catholic, the citizens must strive to support a government which gives protections to false religions which allow infidels to "honorably and worthily" propagate errors against the Catholic faith. I do not believe this can be reconciled with any meaningful way in which the state may "oppose false religious claims or practices", Dr. Cross claims is permissible by a careful reading of the document.==

I have learned to be careful when assessing seeming contradictions within the Christian tradition. It took me a long time to realize that I needed to enforce the caution and resolve that I applied to apparent contradictions within Scripture, to issues concerning the development of doctrine. For instance, I am able to resolve the NT teaching, “that No man hath seen God at any time” (1 John 4:12), with the bold OT assertion:

Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel: And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness. (Ex. 24:9, 10)

Now, with this in mind, I recently ordered (and received) the book, Freedom, Truth, and Human Dignity: The Second Vatican Council's Declaration on Religious Freedom. [Google preview]

I started reading this in depth book last night. On page 40, we read:

>>I argue in this interpretive essay that the prevalent readings of DH today, while rightly recognizing the Council’s shift of emphasis away from the notion of truth formally considered to the notion of the person, fail for the most part to take not of the profound ways in which the issue of truth emerges once more, precisely from within this new context centered in the in person. In other words, there are in point of fact not one but but significant conceptual shifts that occurred during the course of the conciliar debate.>>

After a brief description of the two “significant conceptual shifts”, the author then states, “…the Council thus affirmed, not that error has rights, but that the person has rights even when he errs.”

Anyway, I have just started the book, and it is not an easy read. It will take a good deal of effort on my part to thoroughly digest its contents.

More later, the Lord willing…


Grace and peace,

David

Rory said...

My point David, was that Dr. Cross did not seem to deal with DH #4. I would be happy to find that the document would allow for his interpretation. I certainly applaud your efforts to reconcile seemingly contradictory passages of Scripture. But our faith requires that they are reconcilable. Our faith does not demand that Dr. Cross is correct, or that Dr. Cross' position can be reconciled with DH #4.

I do not wish to dismiss Dr. Cross. I would not be displeased to agree that DH #4 can be reconciled with how he interprets the document. I hold to a Traditional position that is willing to interpret Vatican II in light of Tradition. Dr. Cross is trying to do that. I applaud the effort. I think he fails. I do not believe he takes in to practical consideration what DH #4 says about the societal implication of freedom from individual coercion, (something Tradition demands!) when he affirms the following:

"The civil authority can defend and practice one particular religion, and oppose false religious claims or practices, while upholding and respecting the right to religious freedom as this right is defined and affirmed in Dignitatis Humanae."

Review my notes above from above which shows that DH #4 leaves little room for the state to oppose false religious claims. In what way, I ask, can the state appose false religious claims when it is obliged to allow them virtually all the privileges and protections that the true religion could want. If your book can make it clear that St. Augustine, St. Louis IX, and Pius IX, would be all aboard after truly understanding Dignitatis Humanae in the light of Dr. Cross, I would be well pleased! I do not think the Council Fathers meant what Dr. Cross says. DH has always been interpreted otherwise for practical purposes. No one goes to Dignitatis Humanae when they want to support the duty of the state according to the two saints and pope mentioned above. I do not think my faith demands that Dr. Cross and DH are both right the way we have to reconcile apparently contradictory Scriptures.

Rory said...

I do not know how the Church in some happier time will teach the faithful how to understand the crisis which began when Pope John refused to consecrate Russia to Our Lady's Immaculate Heart. How do I disagree more and more vehemently with papal policies from 1962, when the Council began to the present? Our Lady's private revelations are a big help. There are other sources and especially Sacred Scripture that lead me to be confident that I am not supposed to lose faith in this our hour of battle.

“Wherefore become not unwise, but understanding what is the will of God.” (Ep. 5:17)

In his commentary on the epistle for the 20th Sunday after Pentecost as found in his voluminous study of the liturgy, The Liturgical Year, Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B. attaches a particular importance to the verse quoted above.

At the time of his writing, the Church was hounded and persecuted by the nations, but the popes raised the rally cry without fear. Pope Pius IX (Syllabus of Errors) was reigning and would be followed by good Leo XIII, and St. Pius X. Catholic Tradition and modern private revelations had insisted that worse times would come for Holy Mother Church before the end. Dom Gueranger tells us what a privilege it would be to stand with the happy few, who have the Catholic faith, whole and entire, at a time when pope and bishops alike seem to have been stricken with fear to teach the truth, or worse, they have lost the faith.

to be continued...

Rory said...

From the Liturgical Year, Vol. 11, and the epistle reading for the 20th Sunday after Pentecost:

“As the nuptials of the Son of God approach their final completion, there will be also, on the side of hell, a redoubling of rage against the bride, with a determination to destroy her. The dragon of the Apocalypse, the old serpent who seduced Eve, will cast out water, as a river from his mouth—that is, he will urge on all the passions of man, that they may league together for her ruin. But, do what he will, he can never weaken the bond of the eternal alliance; and having no power against the Church herself, he will turn his fury against the last children of the New Eve, who will have the perilous honour of those final battles.

It is then, more than at all previous times, that the faithful will have to remember the injunction given to us by the Apostle in to-day’s Epistle. They will have to comport themselves with that circumspection which he enjoins, taking every possible care to keep their understanding, no less than their heart, pure, in those evil days. Supernatural light will, in those days, not only have to withstand the attacks of the children of darkness, who will put forward their false doctrines; it will, moreover, be minimized and falsified by the very children of the light yielding on the question of principles; it will be endangered by the hesitations and the human prudence of those who are called far-seeing men. Many will practically ignore the master-truth, that the Church never can be overwhelmed by any created power…They will forget the Apostle’s maxim, laid down in his Epistle to the Romans, that to conform oneself to this world, to attempt an impossible adaptation of the Gospel to a world that is unchristianized, is not the means for proving what is the good, and acceptable, and the perfect will of God. (Rom. 12:2) So that it will be a thing of great and rare merit, in many an occurrence of those unhappy times merely to understand what is the will of God, as our epistle expresses it.

[Italics are those of Dom Gueranger and represent expressions that are used in the epistle. The bolded is mine.]

I think I once heard Bp. Bernard Fellay, FSSPX suggest that at the Last Judgment, we won’t be judged about whether we correctly identified the pope. We can even refuse to have an opinion about that. If we are like St. Vincent Ferrer, we might even in good faith follow an antipope! But we MUST identify and do what is the will of God, for ourselves, day by day, hour by hour, in our own unique circumstances.

Berhane Selassie said...

I have read rabbinical literature (wish id remember the source) that explained that animal sacrifices were ordered in the Torah because that was what was expected by people at the time to appease a deity, that is God wanted them to have something unique but still familiar.

David Waltz said...

Hello again Rory,

Thanks much for your continued interest in this thread; you wrote:

==My point David, was that Dr. Cross did not seem to deal with DH #4. I would be happy to find that the document would allow for his interpretation. I certainly applaud your efforts to reconcile seemingly contradictory passages of Scripture. But our faith requires that they are reconcilable. Our faith does not demand that Dr. Cross is correct, or that Dr. Cross' position can be reconciled with DH #4.

I do not wish to dismiss Dr. Cross. I would not be displeased to agree that DH #4 can be reconciled with how he interprets the document. I hold to a Traditional position that is willing to interpret Vatican II in light of Tradition. Dr. Cross is trying to do that. I applaud the effort. I think he fails.==

I fully concur with your position that, “[o]ur faith does not demand that Dr. Cross is correct, or that Dr. Cross' position can be reconciled with DH #4.”

For me, two important points need to be examined in depth: first, can DH as a whole (including section #4) be reconciled with official Church Tradition; and second, are all the elements of DH irrreformable, or are some reformable?

Still reading through the aforementioned book. Hope to share some of my musings on the book later this week.


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Hi Berhane,

Thanks much for taking the time to share your recollection concerning animal sacrifices from rabbinical lit.

As you know, the NT has examples of the apostles using current cultural beliefs/practices to assist in presenting the Gospel. Paul invokes the alter “to the Unknown God”, to begin his preaching of the Gospel to the Athenians. Paul also had Timothy circumcised so as not to hinder his preaching work.


Grace and peace,

David